Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

07/16/2010

Gannett Newspaper Publisher Talks Money


In previous posts I have reported on the re-blossoming of magazine publishing, including increasing ad pages and revenues…Are newspapers on the road to a financial comeback also?

This insightful article from guardian.co.uk by Mark Sweney gives a clue:

The US newspaper publisher Gannett, which owns the UK regional publisher Newsquest, has reported the best ad revenue performance at its publishing arm in three years and has unveiled a major ad partnership with Yahoo.

Craig Dubow, chief executive of Gannett, said that its publishing division had benefitted from cost cutting and lower newsprint expenses in its second quarter results published today.

“In our publishing segment this quarter was the best comparison quarter for advertising revenues since mid-2007,” he said. “We benefited from continuing efficiency efforts company-wide as well as lower newsprint expense.”

Gannett, which publishes USA Today and more than 80 other newspapers as well as running 600 magazines and 23 TV stations, said that ad revenue at its publishing division fell 5.7% year on year. Circulation revenue fell 5.9%.

Ad revenues were 4.6% lower in the USA and 6.4% down, in pounds, at Newsquest. The company said that figures in June, which show ad revenues down just 3.6%, were the best comparison “since early 2007”.

Newsquest, which owns titles including Glasgow-based the Herald, saw classified ad reveue fall 6.8%, national ad revenue drop 11% and retail advertising fall 4.4%.

Gannett used its results to announce a local advertising partnership with Yahoo. All of Gannett’s 81 local publishing organisations and seven of its broadcasting division sites will sell Yahoo advertising inventory.

Gannett reckons the partnership, which “may” include providing “select local content for programming across Yahoo sites in the US”, will extend its local media organisation reach to cover “as much as” 80% of the total digital audience in the markets it operates.

“Working with Yahoo will allow us to offer targeted advertising messages with unmatched local audience reach,” said Gracia Martore, president at Gannett.

Dubow pointed to Gannett’s broadcast and digital divisions as the real drivers of growth, while a positive result for the embattled publishing division was continuing to achieve “moderating revenue declines”.

“Our strong results this quarter reflect very positive revenue trends for our broadcast and digital segments and moderating revenue declines in publishing as we continued to close the revenue gap in the quarter,” he said. “Stronger core advertising demand and increased political spending drove revenue growth in broadcasting while positive revenue results at CareerBuilder and PointRoll contributed to revenue growth in the digital segment”.

Gannett’s digital operation saw revenue increase by 8.3% while the broadcasting unit saw revenues climb by a massive 20.3% year on year.

Overall Gannett saw net profits rise 35.7% year on year to $146.5m. Total revenues fell 1.6% year-on-year to $1.37bn.

02/13/2010

USA Today Reminds Staff What "Furloughed" Means

Filed under: gannettt,gci,journalism,media,newspapers,usa today — gator1965 @ 5:24 pm

Some interesting statistics and accounting figures inside one of the biggest newspaper (USA Today) publishers: Gannett Company.

Jonathan Beer of Daily Finance reports:

Employees at Gannett Co.’s (GCI) USA Today must be insanely dedicated.

Why else would the nation’s largest newspaper publisher need to explain to the workers at its flagship paper what it means to be forced to take a week off. But that’s exactly what Publisher Dave Hunke decided his depressed workforce needed to hear.

“To be clear, a furlough means no one will be permitted to work while on furlough and no one will be exempt, except for business necessity,” he wrote in a memo to employees that was leaked to the press. “That means when you are on furlough, there is no work, no office phone calls, no voice mail, no e-mail and no PDA checking.”

This raises all sorts of depressing questions. Why is Gannett so worried about employees working for free on their own time? How is this going to be enforced? Should reporters hang up on sources who phone them at home or screen their calls? What if they find Lindsay Lohan and Warren Buffett having a romantic dinner? Should they avert their eyes, or just phone the National Enquirer?

No Longer No. 1

As the independent Gannett Blog noted, other company papers are already doing furloughs, and at least 26 USA Today employees were recently laid off. A one-year wage freeze at the national newspaper, which was scheduled to end April 1, will be extended for another 90 days because business still stinks. Fourth-quarter paid advertising pages at USA Today fell 10.5%, to 705 from 788 a year earlier. Company-wide publishing advertising revenue fell 17.9% to $790.8 million in the fourth quarter.

Last year, USA Today lost its spot as the nation’s No. 1 newspaper after its circulation fell a mind-numbing 17.5%. That was the biggest circulation decline in the 27 year history of the publication that earned the unflattering nickname McPaper. Shares of the McLean, Va.-based company have soared more than 212% over the past year, coming back from record lows as investors bet that the company’s cost-cutting would pay off. Some big shareholders, though, are now unloading shares, according to the Gannett Blog.

To be sure, newspapers have nowhere to go but up. Analysts Borrell Associates expects newspaper advertising revenue to reverse its 2009 decline and post a modest 2.4% gain this year. The forecasters expect newspaper ad sales to be up about 8.7% over 2009 levels in 2014. (Yes, you read that right.)

By the time the publishing industry makes its tepid comeback, the companies will be a rotting shell of their former selves. Workers won’t need to be told what it means to be on a furlough. They will be painfully aware of it.

Jonathan Berr is a former reporter with Bloomberg News whose work has appeared in The New York Times, BusinessWeek and The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 2000, he won the Gerald Loeb Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in business journalism.

Blog at WordPress.com.

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